The infamous Shounen Bat (Lil' Slugger) is terrorizing the residents of Musashino City. Flying around on his rollerblades and beating people down with a golden baseball bat, the assailant seems impossible to catch—much less understand. His first victim, the well-known yet timid character designer Tsukiko Sagi, is suspected of orchestrating the attacks. Believed only by her anthropomorphic pink stuffed animal, Maromi, Tsukiko is just one of Shounen Bat's many victims.
As Shounen Bat continues his relentless assault on the town, detectives Keiichi Ikari and Mitsuhiro Maniwa begin to investigate the identity of the attacker. However, more and more people fall victim to the notorious golden bat, and news of the assailant begins circulating around the town. Paranoia starts to set in as chilling rumors spread amongst adults and children alike.
Will the two detectives be able to unravel the truth behind Shounen Bat, or will the paranoia get to them first?
For those who aren't used to a Satoshi Kon anime, be prepared. They usually start off as a normal type of anime, and then take a serious turn for the surreal. As for Paranoia Agent, it starts off as a normal detective-style anime but then the plot twists and turns worse than a twist-tie on a bag of wonder bread. For those used to Satoshi Kon's work (Paprika, Tokyo Godfathers, etc), none of this is news. Personally I enjoy a good "whodunit" anime since I also love CSI, 24, Prison Break, etc. These kind of shows actually get the viewer to really think how
its going to unfold next or guess who is the real culprit. Just for general information I watched the whole show on Cartoon Network years ago, but then I rewatched the Japanese version and let me tell you there are ALOT of things they (Cartoon Network) cut in various episodes of the show. They even took out important parts of the show that were very important to making the episode make sense. But after watching the 'uncut' version many things made sense.
Even with that extra knowledge I couldn't help but think that half the episodes had a filler feeling to them. Many times you'll wonder why certain story arcs are being told or how that person is connected to the overall story but it will all make sense in the end (except for episode 09). The character cast is extremely varied, in terms of look and personality. The details show in most of their faces.Whats most noticeable is the older the character is, the more detail their face becomes. The voice acting in the english and japanese dubs are extremely top notch as well. For the serious otakus you'll definitely notice Mamiko Noto's voice or Haruko Momoi, but if you're open minded enough to listen to the english side of the voices you'll notice good voices as well like Carrie Savage or Sam Regal. But the attention to detail don't just stop with character style and voice acting.
Character props and background art is where this show shines the most, from an artists cluttered cubicle to an otaku's room filled with figures. I could have sworn you can actually see a layer of dust on an old bookshelf. Each scene is unique and different and you can tell they put alot of time and effort on all the small details to make this show stand out better than the rest. My only gripe out the artwork is that it is very earth tone and dark. Well not really dark per se but its color scheme is very warm and brownish looking which I didn't like all that much but you will soon overcome the problem the more you watch it.
Another gripe I am not to fond of how Kon draws his characters. Some of them look very normal, ordinary and sometimes cute. But the characters who wear their personality on their sleeves look very drastic. Like abnormaly huge mouths, beady eyes, fishy lips, all very strange to look at. The most that suffers from this type of look are the male figures in the show. I'm not fond of it but im sure most people will enjoy the change of pace from all the cute moe cartoons that plage the anime world.
If you have never seen a Sat-Kon anime, I highly reccomend watching this series simply because it will definitely be a different experience that you should see for yourself. With the outrageous plot twists and holes in some parts, the story does have a few problems overall. Like I said way back in the beggining the story starts out fine then it takes a serious turn for the surreal so take that however you may but I highly recommender this to anyone who doesn't mind a crazy mind trip of "Alice in Wonderland" proportions.
Anime: The animation production for Paranoia Agent was done by Madhouse (famous for work on Death Note and Paradise Kiss), and was directed by Satoshi Kon (famous for Perfect Blue and Paprika). It aired on Japanese television from February 2nd, 2004 to May 18th, 2004. Geneon (soon to be defunct) licensed it Stateside, and the fourth and final volume was released May 10th, 2005. The dubbed version also had a run on Adult Swim, the first of which began on May 28th, 2005, and an encore run on June 6th, 2006.
Story: The first episode kicks off with character designer (Sugi)
being pressured to follow up on her first hit and dealing with creative block. On her way home, she runs into an older woman rummaging through garbage and who randomly disappears -- never a good sign, especially in a Satoshi Kon work. Things get progressively creepier from there, culminating in her getting beat over the head by some random elementary school punk on gold skates with a bent bat, which draws suspicion from the detectives investigating the case. Soon, others are attacked in the same way and give the same description of the kid, who is dubbed "Shounen Bat" (Bat Boy in English, but I prefer Shounen Bat, personally :P).
From there, a different director takes the helm each episode, and the episodes become self-contained one-shots that focus on a different victim of Shounen Bat. Each of the episodes are, for the most part, self-contained, but, at the same time, link together (oxymoronic, I know) in the tiniest, subtlest ways to become a part of the larger series. It's only in the last third or so of the series that episodes actually pick up where they left off the last time and connect to each other. And each of the victims have one major common factor (but I can't tell you that, because it would spoil the series for you), but connect to each other in smaller, subtler ways.
This story is nothing short of phenomenal. You'll be on the edge of your seat as you watch each victim's story unfold, wait for the inevitable attack, and watch the mystery of Shounen Bat unfold.
Just be warned, though: this is classic Kon, which means there's going to be blurring between fantasy and reality, the occasional trippiness, and psychological problems. I think this is Kon Lite, though (then again, I may have just gotten used to his works).
WARNING: There's a bit of sex and nudity in here, and some trippiness, but, as I said before, it's nothing, compared to his other works. Still, nice to know that it's there.
Art: Madhouse's realistic style fits this production to a tee. They tend to use darker colors and shades, except for when they use brighter hues, usually to a darker effect (yes, I know it's oxymoronic, work with me here).
But remember how I said that directors changed each episode? Well, this applies to the art directors, too; this results in a subtle changing of styles each episode that affects what each director most wants to get across, while still remaining Madhouse's trademark realistic style. Art directors can even change several times within an episode, which makes for some interesting style changes.
Music: Satoshi Kon almost never does a work without Susumu Hirasawa, and this is where the latter has a chance to shine. The OP is absolutely eerie, and sets the tone for the series perfectly, and the ED manages to make bright music seem like the damn creepiest thing ever. The music for the series alternates between these two extremes, but it never gets old. The ED (which is also the theme for one of the series' main characters) and the theme for Shounen Bat will never fail to send shivers running up and down your spine.
Length: Perfect. If it were any longer, it would've started to drag, but if it were shorter, they probably wouldn't have been able to tie everything together like they did. The length allows for the perfect exploration of each victim, and for the larger mystery to unfold like it does.
Seiyuu: No particular standouts or any seiyuu that I recognize, really. Overall, good job.
Overall: A Kon work, through and through, with a phenomenal story and amazing art, all because of the changing directors.
This is one of the anime that I believe you must see at least one episode of before you die. So go watch it already!
It is very hard to give a rating for Paranoia agent that can be surmised using the numbers rating system. The story is quite complicated but excecuted with flair. Any dull moments serve to advance the viewers understanding of the complicated characters and scenarios. Plainly the plot revolves around a series of attacks on people who appear to be unrelated. The plot dedicates episodes to each of these victims and merges their paths together to weave a story of connections and basically highlight the power of Paranoia. This is a gritty and mature anime, it deals with issues such
as incest, violence, technology and consumerism, blackmail, hatred, the power of the media and the power of rumours as 'Little Slugger' becomes more fiction than fact.
I won't lie - The last 5 episodes are quite mind boggling, the plot shifts focus on random people and their own issues and encounters. This may frustrate keen viewers as it felt like a MAJOR detour to me... Luckily for us, there is a plot ending and resolution. Even a little closure. I personally haven’t seen something as mentally interesting since Neon Genesis, and that's a statement!
I fully believe this series deserves such a high rating. The animation was spectacular, fluid and very accurate. Right down to small nuances in each character and the intricacies of clothing and background. Paranoias animation techniques are supposed to be an almost realistic representation of people, not the typical big eyed crazy haired anime moe styles. The same director (Satoshi Kon) also directed thriller classics Big O and Perfect Blue. Kon also directed Tokyo Godfathers, so if you have viewed these titles before you know what to expect. Paranoia Agent utilises a whole variety of cinematic techniques which serves to make the show visually interesting. The reason the art didn't warrent a full score was because in the last DvD I felt that the quality and attention to detail had taken a back seat to let the crazy plot entertain us more.
I thought Paranoia Agent did very well with background music, often creating an eerie intensity. The Opening song was as a bizarre reflection of the show. The melody is bright and happy while the lyrics themselves sing a different story. The Opening is very ironic but pretty catchy. The Ending clip and song was really disappointing. It’s really a very simple melody and even the clip was very boring. In the directors comments Kon mentioned that he comissioned the Opening sequence to wake the viewer up, and the closing sequence to prepare the viewer to wind down and relax. Also - I watched this in the English dub, no complaints! A top job. All the VA's matched their characters very well and really brought them to life.
If went into too much detail here I would spoil the entire enjoyment of this show. The plot is primarily supported by the assortment of complex and interesting characters. Human emotions, sensibilities and weaknesses. If you're a fan of character driven shows Paranoia Agent should fit you perfectly.
Like I previously mentioned, animation is spectacular and brings the characters to life. Points were lost because the character of ‘Lil Slugger’ was so intentionally vague and this caused me a bit of frustration throughout the series. Although that's just personal... Other than that all of them were very interesting. The characters emotions have also been animated very well, really bringing out the grit of the series and letting us empathise with them. If
I had some very Genuine moments of ‘wtf’ because this is the sort of show that illicites, wtf moments. A good friend of mine described the series as ‘General Mind f******’ pardon the language – but that perfectly summarises my thoughts too. If your into being messed around with and fantastic animation this show would be right up your alley. It’s bizarre, intense and very intruiging. Understanding human nature is essentially what this show deals with IMO so be prepared to have to think!
Totally recomend this!
BUT If you're distressed easily I would steer clear of this title because it can be quite confronting.
Satoshi Kon, director of such classics as Perfect Blue and Millennium Actress, is famous for pushing the boundaries of anime. His latest effort (and first series), Paranoia Agent, is no different. But, like his other works, you’ll either love it or hate it. This short 13 episode series is full of more twists and turns than you can shake a stick at, and the animation style is anything but traditional.
The story begins with detectives Keiichi Ikari (AKA 'the Chief') and Mitsuhiro Maniwa investigating the street assault of Tsukiko Sagi, a famous designer for a toy company and creator of Maromi, a popular cartoon character. She
claims she was walking home from work the night before when she was attacked by a boy on roller blades wielding a bent baseball bat. When rumours get out of her attack, the people in the town begin to refer to him as “Lil’ Slugger” (in the dubbed version) or Shounen Bat (Shōnen Batto 少年バット in the original Japanese version). Unfortunately, there isn’t enough evidence to point Ikari and Maniwa to any significant suspects. They don’t have to wait long, however, before Lil’ Slugger strikes again.
The first four episodes of Paranoia Agent deal with Lil’ Slugger’s first five victims – Tsukiko Sagi, Shogo Ushiyama, Yuichi Taira, Harumi Chono, and Masami Hirukawa, respectively. Usually, Lil’ Slugger knocks his victims unconscious when he attacks them, but in the case of his fifth attack, Hirukawa manages to get to his feet and hit Lil’ Slugger on the head with a rock as he tries to skate away. With Lil’ Slugger captured, Ikari and Maniwa breathe a sigh of relief, believing the case is practically closed. However, they soon realise just how far from the truth that is…
I won’t give away anything else about the plot, but take it from me; it’s one of the most bizarre, mind-blowing anime series you’ll ever see. Satoshi Kon does such an amazing job of telling the story – fantasy and reality blur to the point of being indistinguishable from one another as the series progresses and the disturbing story behind Lil’ Slugger is slowly unraveled. The characters are rich and believable, and the writing is witty and intelligent.
Another thing about Paranoia Agent that really caught my attention was the animation style and character design. Madhouse really does a fantastic job on this series – the characters are dark, disturbed, and many are (perhaps most importantly) unattractive. Now that’s something you don’t see every day in anime. I’ve noticed that Satoshi Kon, who assists in character design for all of his works, feels the need to create characters that are actual people with actual problems – both mental as well as physical. Call me crazy, but I get tired of the traditional anime style. Paranoia Agent is a fantastic break from pink hair and over-exaggerated features.
The two detectives, Ikari and Maniwa, are interesting and easily relatable. Ikari, the chief, is a middle-aged man living in the past who can’t seem to get a grip on today’s world. He sees Lil’ Slugger as a symbol of what’s wrong with our youth in the 21st century, and is intent on tracking him down. Maniwa is much younger – an impressionable dreamer, but still very serious about his job. He provides the viewer with a different, more abstract take on who Lil’ Slugger really is. But, even with their clashing personalities and different opinions of the serial street attacks, they work perfectly together. I give it an A+ in the character design department, as it’s some of the best I’ve ever seen.
The moment I saw the first episode of Satoshi Kon’s Paranoia Agent, I knew the series as a whole would be a masterpiece. I was totally right. Out of all the movies and series I’ve seen (anime or otherwise), PA – in my honest opinion – reigns supreme as one of the most intelligent, inspiring, and flawless pieces of visual entertainment ever.